SINGAPORE - Adult learners from around the world will be able to enrol in a virtual campus that can take in more than 60,000 students starting next year.
This is one of the initiatives under a metaverse road map unveiled by a Singapore private education provider, Aventis Graduate School, on Wednesday (May 18).
Established in 2007, the school aims to become Asia's first graduate school to enter the open metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual world where users can interact with each other in various ways through virtual and augmented realities.
A memorandum of understanding, or MOU, was inked on Wednesday (May 18) between Aventis and its partners, Smobler Studios, a virtual architecture and creative agency that will provide design expertise, and a platform called Multiverse Labs that specialises in metaverse technology.
Through the initiative, known as Aventis Metaverse, the three-year tie-up wants to, among other things, make online courses like data analytics and marketing more accessible and affordable for graduate students and senior executives in their thirties to fifties.
Mr Samuel Teo, general manager of Aventis Graduate School, said the school wants to create a metaverse environment which is accessible 24/7.
Noting that students will have access to support around the clock, he said: "Even during off-peak hours when professors are not online, you can have artificial intelligence avatars, professor avatars to exchange ideas and seek assistance."
Said Dr Loretta Chen, co-founder of Smobler Studios: "Through our collaboration, we will be able to offer value, quality and accessibility across geographical, economic and social boundaries.
"This, to me, is what education should be about - making all our lives better as a collective."
A master's programme in Aventis graduate school could cost around $20,000 in total, while a graduate diploma course could be about $5,000.
Students who have difficulties paying for their courses can tap a new earn-and-learn model where corporate sponsors will support these learners.
Mr Teo said: "For example, a corporate sponsor helps a student who needs financial assistance. After the student completes the course, he will earn non-fungible tokens, or NFT digital badges, which can be traded, sold and exchanged.
"The student can co-share the NFT with his sponsor, or choose to sell and share the earnings. The NFT could be worth US$100 (S$139) for a month-long course."
NFTs are digital files uploaded onto a blockchain and sold for crypto currency in return for some ownership rights.
Ms Cindy New, company director of Multiverse Labs, said: "Having a metaverse is not just gamification. It is about providing social and economic access and the ability to grow."
Aventis Metaverse is expected to begin beta testing with the onboarding of existing students and alumni in the third quarter of this year.